732 My Darling Clementine

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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dda1996a
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Re: My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946)

#51 Post by dda1996a » Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:30 pm

I saw this so long ago, but from what I remember I was surprised by its tone, actors and the temporality of the story.
Also with everyone listing their favorite Ford westerns, how is Liberty Valance not at the top of the list?

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Rayon Vert
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Re: My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946)

#52 Post by Rayon Vert » Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:32 pm

It will be near there for me.

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domino harvey
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Re: My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946)

#53 Post by domino harvey » Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:38 pm

dda1996a wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:30 pm
Also with everyone listing their favorite Ford westerns, how is Liberty Valance not at the top of the list?
It's my number two after Stagecoach

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hearthesilence
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Re: My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946)

#54 Post by hearthesilence » Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:51 pm

I love Liberty Valance, it's one of Ford's masterpieces and as mentioned elsewhere, one of the great "memory" films in cinema.

Also, this just reminded me of a hilarious joke from Billy Crystal when he hosted the Oscars in 1992, the year JFK was one of the nominees for Best Picture:

"Oliver Stone's next film will be The Men Who Shot Liberty Valance."

HinkyDinkyTruesmith
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Re: My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946)

#55 Post by HinkyDinkyTruesmith » Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:55 pm

While I love The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and Stagecoach (and think them sublime, perfect, etc.) there is a fascination about a film like My Darling Clementine or She Wore a Yellow Ribbon!, the looser, more artsy Ford westerns, that I prefer in the long run, I think.

It was either in this thread, or in the old mubi user thread, where someone gave an extraordinary close reading of the "To be or not to be" scene in Clementine, discussing how Ford uses Shakespeare's famous soliloquy to explore not only the character motivations but also the fundamental nature of the West ("the undiscovered country"). Rewatching some scenes in consideration of it, I'm also struck by how wide Ford keeps it, how much he emphasizes the scale of the West (for all the film's glorious interiors). Never using any especially striking deep focus (in what I've rewatched), Ford's film has an immense wideness, skies rolling out in ways that never seem to in Stagecoach.

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Rayon Vert
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Re: My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946)

#56 Post by Rayon Vert » Thu Aug 09, 2018 5:30 pm

HinkyDinkyTruesmith wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:55 pm
Never using any especially striking deep focus (in what I've rewatched), Ford's film has an immense wideness, skies rolling out in ways that never seem to in Stagecoach.
Stagecoach really examines an enclosed world like several Ford pictures (7 Women, The Long Voyage Home come to mind), that is translated in the visuals (the camera often keeps these characters framed in a fairly enclosed space). Although that makes sense in terms of the narrative and themes, it's probably one of the reasons I don't enjoy it to the same degree as some of his other westerns.

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DarkImbecile
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Re: My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946)

#57 Post by DarkImbecile » Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:26 pm

I've only seen the theatrical version, but think I fall closer to Domino's view of this as a middle of the pack effort for Ford that certainly has its quality shots and moments (the Clanton boys lining up on the bar in the foreground in front of Earp, Earp chasing down Holliday's coach, the multitude of shadow-heavy compositions - is this Ford's darkest black and white feature?) but the whole is weighed down by its less successful parts. The final shootout feels slack, Mature's performance isn't uniformly terrible but definitely falls short of the possibilities the role offers, the titular character is more or less wholly unnecessary to the proceedings, and there are a few too many of Ford's signature folksy jokes and musical interludes.

Most significantly, the core myth of the Earp brothers has enough compelling elements worth exploring that are instead glossed over here that I can't help but feel their absence even when trying to engage with the narrative as Ford presents it. Count me among those who largely enjoy Fonda's Earp, but he's presented as such a saint (and his brothers such nonentities*) that the film largely bypasses the question of where justice ends and vengeance begins, an integral part of this story and the creation of its legend that gives it a depth beyond black hat v. white hat heroics.

*James is granted more characterization in his two minutes of screentime than Virgil or Morgan are given in the next 90.

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knives
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Re: My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946)

#58 Post by knives » Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:36 pm

On your last point, yeah. I don't think Ford is at all interested in the dividing line on justice and certainly doesn't engage with it at all in the film. There are other themes he explores instead and those should be the ones the film is judged by.

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Re: My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946)

#59 Post by DarkImbecile » Fri Aug 10, 2018 2:08 pm

I don’t disagree with that general principle in the abstract, but as I said, when you’re engaging with a story as well-known and oft-adapted as this one, it’s difficult to ignore the absence of one of its fundamental and common thematic components. It’s not the primary reason the film doesn’t entirely work for me, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t noticeable.

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knives
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Re: My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946)

#60 Post by knives » Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:38 pm

That's entirely your baggage though and how is to say those themes were baked in by that point? From the sound of existing material it sounds like Ford went at this in part because Zucker wanted to reuse the Dwan script (which as far as I recall also doesn't fiddle with your theme) and Ford had known Earp and thought it would be fun to make him into a character. In fact, looking around, this seems to have been only the fifth or sixth film featuring Earp as a character and only the fourth set in Tombstone (two of the other based on the same material as Ford's).

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Re: My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946)

#61 Post by DarkImbecile » Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:55 pm

I’m not disagreeing that it’s my baggage; that’s what I’ve been saying in three posts now, if not in exactly those words (alongside criticism and praise totally detached from that personal perspective). What I’m disagreeing with is the implication that my baggage is unwelcome in a write up of my response to a film I watched. To be frank, since you’re someone who often brings an entire luggage showroom worth of personal context to your writings here (and not at all to their detriment), I’m surprised that you’re blowing me up over this.

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Rayon Vert
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Re: My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946)

#62 Post by Rayon Vert » Fri Aug 10, 2018 4:51 pm

DarkImbecile wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:26 pm
The final shootout feels slack, Mature's performance isn't uniformly terrible but definitely falls short of the possibilities the role offers, the titular character is more or less wholly unnecessary to the proceedings, and there are a few too many of Ford's signature folksy jokes and musical interludes.
I rather thought the action scenes were strong and intense and quite terrific. The middle sections tend to wander but that's part of Ford and of the poetic appeal of the film. Fonda was a great choice to render a solitary hero who has a steely strength as well as a vulnerability. I'm struck at how it's a frequently dark and tough film, but it’s also wonderfully directed with some well-integrated moments of humor. It's also one of his most visually accomplished. I'm in the camp of those who consider it one of his best films.

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